The federal Department of Defense honored local state Rep. Raymond E. Gallison Jr. this week, thanking him for two bills in the RI General Assembly that assist members of the armed forces and their families.
Robert L. Gordon III, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy, sent Gallison (D-Bristol, Portsmouth) a letter and certificate praising his sponsorship of two new laws to help deployed veterans vote and to help accelerate child-custody hearings.
The first bill (2012-H 7100A) put Rhode Island’s elections laws into compliance with the federal Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act, aiintended to help deployed military members and others abroad to register and vote.
The other bill (2012-H 7274 Aaa) created a law expediting custody hearings for parents who are military members and are about to be deployed. The law allows either parent to request that the court expedite a hearing to establish temporary custody rights, responsibilities and parent-child contact during deployment if deployment seems imminent. The law aims to prevent parents who are deployed from losing custody rights because they are deployed before rights are determined.
“Please accept our appreciation and that of the Service members and families residing in your state for your dedicated effort towards improving their quality of life,” Gordon wrote to Gallison.
Gallison, who serves as chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, was also the sponsor of a bill (2012-H 7225A) that passed into law this year to prohibit lenders from foreclosing on the home of any member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps or Coast Guard as well as member of the National Guard or Reserves when they are called to active duty, and for nine months following their return
The bills follow another Gallison-sponsored law enacted in 2010 to allow children who move from one school to another due to a family member’s military transfer to continue participating in school at the same grade level as they did at their previous school, at least initially. The legislation joined Rhode Island to the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children, and is aimed at easing transitions for the many families who come to Rhode Island due to military reassignments.